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An Open Letter to White Liberals


Before we begin this letter just let me state; you will be offended. White Liberal America, we’ve come to a crossroads in our relationship. As I sit and type these words, you are actively and loudly campaigning for platforms for literal Nazis and their conspirators. What the actual f*ck is wrong with you? You scream and cry about how you don’t agree with them, but we can’t infringe on their free speech; there’s just one problem with that though. Not giving a platform to white supremacists isn’t a matter of free speech. It’s not protected by the first amendment as y’all love to scream about because it allows you to wrap that warm blanket of white supremacy so tightly around you.

That amendment only prevents the government from making laws stopping you from using words and phrases and from burning the flag. Those are issues of free speech. Universities telling people like Ann Coulter to f*ck off? That’s them realizing that allowing these people to come and spew their vile rhetoric is just, well, bad for their reputation. These universities are making a smart business decision that just so happens to also be morally correct.

When you, liberal white America, defend the right of these folks to be given a platform anywhere YOU are directly contributing to white supremacy. YOU, liberal white America, are directly contributing to further oppression of already oppressed groups and all their intersectionalities. YOU, white liberal America (and anyone who does this; however let’s be real most of you who do this are white liberals), are directly contributing to a rise in violence against our communities. YOU are taking a side and it is not the side of the oppressed. You are taking the side of the oppressor. You have reaffirmed your commitment to whiteness and the privilege that it brings you. You have chosen equal opportunity imperialism across gender lines in the white community.

I will not debate my right to exist with you or anyone else. But for you to take that and treat it as if it’s little more than an academic pursuit while the reality of suppression is literally killing us in the streets and in our homes you have reaffirmed whose side you’re on. Those pink pussy hats do not, will not, and by virtue of why that movement was started, cannot advance the agenda for anyone but white women. Your defense of people who think those of us who aren’t white should be the subject of genocide underlines that point. Yes, you well-meaning white liberal. Yes, you, to whom racism and police violence is little more than a talking point. You, collectively, have decided that the lives of Women of Color are inherently worth less than yours; you have decided that the lives of Children of Color are worth less than yours. You, white liberal in search of equality within the context of white supremacy, have signed the death warrant of those who don’t fit the paradigm of the people whose vile and violent rhetoric you defend. You do, in fact, defend it by demanding they be given a platform.

Related: Add Whose Name? The Hidden Histories of “Human Rights Are Women’s Rights”

You may recoil and boo when you hear what it is they have to say. To you, that’s all that must be done. To the white liberal, there is no turning point where those words become violence enacted on you and your community. The words these people speak invite real world consequences; words like the ones you’re defending led to a terrorist attack that led to the deaths of nine people in a church. Those words have power. They lead to more acts of violence. And as much as you want to deny it, you’ve made it perfectly clear where you stand. And it’s not with us.

– Just another n*gga

Written by Adair Schmidt

Adair Schmidt is a political activist and was a delegate for Bernie Sanders at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. He was previously a contributor on Project Sanity and is now on The Discourse. Follow him on Twitter @adairschmidtPS.

Adair is a Writer for Progressive Army.

One Comment

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  1. Hey there. White female, though at this point I’m confused by the difference between the terms leftist, progressive, liberal, etc, that I’ve given up on defining myself. Generally, though, I don’t have good associations with the word “liberal” as a noun, I’m okay with it, generally speaking, as a descriptor. “liberal views…”

    Anyway, FWIW, there are a few other thing that makes me crazy about these so-called 1st Amendment debates.

    Firstly the 1st amendment was designed to protect speech from the government. No one has to invite someone into their living room in the name of free speech. So, fine, it’s iffy because universities are public and receive public funds. But students are private citizens, not government employees.

    Nextly: no one is depriving the would-be speaker of their speech. S/he is only being deprived of a platform FOR that speech. So (I say to those shunned by university students)… build your own platform! No one is obligated to offer you one (or, theirs). Not to mention, most of these folks ALREADY HAVE platforms. (Dear Anne Coulter: if your platform is inadequate to your needs, well… cry me a river. Boo frickin’ hoo.)

    Lastly (but only specifically to my list of points, not to the argument in general): Protesting free speech is, in itself, an ACT OF FREE SPEECH.

    Sure, marketplace of ideas, blah, but… IMO? In many cases, this is bullshit. As an example: I got into a huge argument with a friend back when the Rs were pressuring Obama (back in 2015) to debate the terms of admitting Syrian refugees. What’s wrong, friend wanted to know, with openly and honestly debating the “issue”? My answer: THERE IS NO FUCKING ISSUE. This is purely manufactured bullshit. Her: But we should still debate it. Free speech! Me: NFW. To open it for discussion is to legitimize the point of view. And it is a bullshit, illegitimate point-of-view and doesn’t deserve it. We got very testy with each other (she wasn’t convinced, but the friendship survived).

    So, ITA. Giving racist assholes a platform for their speech, particularly in a place that is dedicated to intellectual pursuits, is not a value-neutral proposition. It can serve to legitimize that speech, which… not a good thing.

    And all of the above doesn’t even touch the overarching politics of the situation: which speech is invited to the campus AND WHICH IS NOT. And that calls into question another overarching issue: which POVs are considered valid/valuable and which are not deemed worthy of notice. And, specific to the university experience, what that says TO and ABOUT the student body in general terms (reinforcing existing cultural biases or challenging them) and also, more specifically, whether individual and minority student body members’ cultures and experiences are valued and respected.

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An Open Letter to White Liberals